Hacking Fitness

Blog Posts

I read this article (The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin) and struggled to figure out where to agree and where to violently disagree .

Being a runner and triathlete I obviously have some bias, yet I currently own a gym that specializes in high intensity interval training, I am a personal trainer and yoga instructor, so I have some level of knowledge in both areas.

The main implication of the original article is that cardio (whatever that means to you) will not lean you out, or will, over time, provide less and less weight loss benefit.

The issue with cardio is one of definition. People equate running, jogging and biking type activities with cardio, but the reality is that anything that gets your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time can be considered cardio.

But remember, the converse is also true…if you perform traditional cardio exercises and do not achieve an elevated heart rate then you are not doing a cardio exercise.

The key word here is INTENSITY!


  • Jogging, 5km/h – 60 mins, 450 calories
  • Running, 10km/h – 60 mins, 730 calories
  • Running, 15 km/h – 60 mins, 1400 calories

If you jog for an hour then eat like you ran 15 km in that same hour you are just asking to gain weight!

At the end of the day it is basic math, calories in versus calories out.

Doing cardio activities is no guarantee that you are burning enough calories to lose weight. If you are not cardio-ing as hard as you think you are…you are not burning as many calories as you think and, surprise surprise, you are not leaning out as much as you think you should.

We see this all the time, people come in, do a HiiT class then consume a protein shake containing 350 calories…and then head home for lunch or dinner. The result is actually a negative impact on their weight. They may be toning up but they will not be leaning out.

And some of the statements in the original article are incredibly misleading…for example…

“Some of the workouts included […] nine-hour sessions […] 10-mile run,  70-mile bike ride, and finish with another 4-mile run”.

First off, let us not downplay the amazing accomplishment that is the 9 hour workout. It requires incredible focus, dedication and perseverance.

However, let us actually break down the numbers…

  • 10 mile run (16km for those Canadian’s in the crowd)
  • 70 mile bike (112km)
  • 4 mile run (6.5 km)
  • Total 9 hrs

At my fastest my time for doing that type of workout would be (1hr + 3.5 hrs + 30 mins), call it 5.5 hrs to be generous. Yet the author is taking 8 or 9 hrs for the same distance, obviously a less INTENSE session.

An important follow up questions, how many calories are consumed during the 8 hour workout? Is this added into the total for the day or the week? I am going to suggest that most people do not count the calories consumed during a long cardio workout (gatorade, power bars, gel packs) yet this total is VERY significant. You are literally unable to do a 8 hour workout without significant calorie intake during the session.

This is not a criticism but maybe the 2400 calories consumed in a day, which is the high end for of the scale for an “active” woman, is too high for the level of intensity undertaken, thus minimizing weight loss.

It is true that aerobic capacity (cardio efficiency) is greatly increased by the amount of aerobic (cardio) exercise you do and yes, your body will get more efficient and burn less total calories. But isn’t that the end goal of aerobic (cardio) training? You are training your body to be efficient and perform to and beyond it’s current limits.

If you want to believe cardio does not make you lean I can provide two counter examples :run tri

  • Example 1
  • Age 27
  • Training focus – triathlon
  • Weight 165lbs, body fat 8%
  • Training hours per week – 20 – mainly cardio, running, biking, swimming
  • All heavy weight work was in off season (mainly leg work)
  • 1NTENSITY LEVEL – 10km time – 35mins, Olympic distance Triathlon time – 2 hrs
  • Age group winner in races
  • Calories consumed per day – 3000-ish
  • (please excuse the speedo it was the 80s 😉

  • Example 2
  • age 50Spartan Beast
  • Training focus – Spartan Races (hilly trail running with obstacles)
  • Weight 175 lbs, body fat 13%
  • Training hour per week 10 to 15, mix of running and HiiT with weight training all year round
  • INTENSITY LEVEL – 10km time – 45 mins, Spartan Beast (21km hills) – 3:45 hrs
  • Age group winner in races (5, 12, and 21km)
  • Calories consumed per day 2500-ish

Weight loss has nothing to do with cardio, but that does not mean you should give up cardio.

Getting lean has nothing to do with lifting weights, but that doesn’t mean you should stop lifting weights.

Aerobic activity (cardio) will burn calories, raise your heart rate and improve your cardio-vascular health.

Weight training will improve muscle definition, strengthen muscle groups and protect joints that undergo stress during your cardio sessions.

Cutting calories (dieting) will cause you to lean out but will not help your aerobic fitness or develop muscle tone (see the definition of skinny-fat)

High intensity weight training will elevate heart rate (for a short period of time) and build muscle and improve muscle definition.

High intensity training will not prepare you for even medium duration cardio activities of any type, just ask all the gym-rats at the end of the first climb of a Spartan race, they look great at the start and then flame out after 20 mins of hilly running.

But remember – Any activity is good activity!!!!

It really is simple

  1. Get active
  2. Pick an activity that you can maintain over days/weeks/months so you don’t get bored
  3. Gradually Increase your intensity, challenge yourself always.
  4. Eat the proper number of calories for the level of intensity you are performing

You will lean out, regardless of the workout you are doing.


Original article here

…The IRONMAN 70.3 is a friendly distance. It’s a challenging step up from shorter-distance races (sprints and Olympic/international) to “test” yourself at a longer, more endurance-focused event. Once you complete one, you’ll probably know whether you’re hooked, or whether you’re more suited to training and racing shorter events. If you’ve only done short races, a 70.3 is a significant feat to tackle, and one worthy of respect. On the flip side, the distance is also a reasonable (I hesitate to say “easy”) step down from IRONMAN. If you’re an athlete who jumped straight into the full distance, the half distance provides a taste of speedy, peppy racing that can be addictive in its own right. Once you’ve completed a few IRONMAN races, maintaining the fitness to do a 70.3 is a no-brainer….

Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2013/11/7-reasons-to-love-70.3.aspx#ixzz3SOcdVOvK

Not sure what I was thinking but I just added a Spartan Ultra Beast to my race calendar for 2015. If you are not familiar with Spartan races they are obstacle courses races usually held at ski hills. Lots of climbing, lots of running, lots of tough obstacles, and if you fall off anything, lots of burpees.

ultra beast

A “normal” Beast is 22+ km with 6 or 7 long climbs thrown in. My time last year at the 2014 Mont Ste Marie Beast was 3hr42 and I was hoping to improve on that time this year. The 2015 MSM Ultra Beast will require participants to complete the Beast course, then go out and do it again, with added terrain and obstacles thrown in. I figure we are looking at anywhere from 45 to 50km. So my goal will be to finish in under 8hrs.

This race has now thrown my training into a bit of a mess.

I had already decided to do a half-ironman (Timberman 70.3), so I have been adding swimming and biking into my training mix along with the current running and strength training. The Ultra has been for scheduled the week before the Timberman. Seeing as how I had a hard time walking for three days after the Beast I am not sure that aiming for a PB at the Timberman is reasonable 😉

So…I have changed plans slightly and will now aim for the Ironman 70.3 in Princeton a month after the Ultra…one problem solved.

I have never run a marathon distance race before and I had decided after last summer that I never intended to run a marathon. Short races (ok less than half marathon distance) seem to be my sweet spot but the need to rise to the challenge of the Ultra is unrelenting and I want to be ready.

So…I just downloaded a marathon training plan that will ramp my running to the 42km range in time for the Ultra…second problem solved.

If only planning was the same as doing…

So here are some of the other things that still concern me…

1. Race time nutrition – I have done races at 1hr, 2hrs, 3hrs, 4hrs and 6 hrs duration. I know when my body starts to run out of fuel. Up to 2hrs I have realized I only need water. At 3 and 4hrs I find a gel pack every 45mins is sufficient. At 5 and 6hrs I discovered, painfully, that the gels are no longer enough and I will need to test what I can eat, when I can eat and whether I can keep it down. I have experimented with gels and sport drink mixes and at high sugar content levels it upsets the stomach. A gel without water or a sport drink mixed too strong will just come right back up. For the Ultra I will need solid food and a reasonable amount of it, the question will be when/what/how often, this all needs to be experimented with and resolved well before race day. There is lots of information out there but everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for the next.

ultra beast 22. Base Miles – I need to make sure the miles are in place. The Beast may have been almost 4 hrs but the mileage was still only at 23km, the Ultra will be double that and will have lots of vertical so I need to make sure my aerobic base is in place. I want to be fast so it will not just be long slow miles there will be some speed work in there as well.

3. Cross Training – I do lots of strength training and will be putting some serious miles on the bike. Biking is very good cross training for climbing and the strength training will help as well (as long as I don’t forget leg day). Even the cross training will need to ramp up. I need to test my endurance on the climbs. I cramped up big time at the Spartan Beast Worlds in 2014 when I passed through the 5hr mark (I finished in 6hr30, 200th out of 5000). There was serious vertical mileage in that race and I wasn’t as ready as I should have been, that will not happen again.

4. Equipment – Shoes/Socks? Do I stash a spare pair to change at the end of the first loop. Shorts/Shirt? Same question. Hydration Pack? Do I run with one? Traditionally I loath to carry a water pack, relying on the water stations on the course. Do I carry food with me or leave some at the end of the first loop and go without during each loop? I know the second loop will not be the same as the first in terms of nutritional requirements.

As I figure this stuff out I will post it back here, I hope it will be useful information.

Kettle bell workout with a bit of cardio thrown in for flavour!! Let’s name this one “Hails” 😉


  • 5 KettleBell Swings (double handed) 20kg bell
  • 10 Sets of Stairs (up and down)
  • 10 Wall Balls (18lb ball)
  • 30 sec rest
  • 10 KB, 8 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 15 KB, 6 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 20 KB, 4 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 25 KB, 2 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 30 KB, 1 minute rest
  • 25 KB, 2 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 20 KB, 4 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 15 KB, 6 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 10 KB, 8 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 5 KB, 10 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec

Totals: 60 sets of stairs, 180 KB swings, 100 wall balls.

UPDATE: Workout complete, target time is 30min, I managed 32min.

For time.


Cool article on some interesting habits of Kona triathletes!kona habits

From Taylor Swift to McFlurries, a round up of the habits of IRONMAN’s fastest athletes.

My favorite dish the last couple of days before the race is white rice with some ketchup on top of it.”-Frederick Van Lierde (Reigning IRONMAN World Champion), Menen, Belgium

“I always pee in my wetsuit or swimskin as I float in the water right before the race. It’s my final moment of calm before the storm, pure bliss.”-Matt Keil, Minneapolis, MN

Originally from: Ironman.com

This is a great article to read if you are thinking of starting running or have been scared away in the past. Share it with your non-running friends, get them hooked.

Full Article Here : http://runningmagazine.ca/five-running-myths-busted/



Running has become a popular and important health-promoting activity for tens of thousands of Canadians. It is relatively inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere, and at all times of the year. There are many benefits of running — as little as once or twice a week —to your overall health and well-being and running can also be a fun and social activity to share with family and friends.


However, there are a few myths and misconceptions that continue to exist among the general public. It’s important to know the truth and to share the facts as to prevent others from being discouraged. Here are but a few common myths that relate to running, and the truth behind them.

rest of article here

Crossfit likes to name their WoDs so I figure I will start naming my workouts. Only the hard ones though, the intense ones, the ones that make me feel like I am going to pass out or throw up.

Did an awesome workout today with my #1 training partner (wanted to throw up after the 8th repeat but kept it in).

I think I will call this one “Nico”

  • 5 pushups
  • 2 flights of stairs, up and down
  • 5 chin ups
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down (see a pattern?)
  • 10 wall balls (18 or 20lb ball)
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down
  • 5 single arm snatch with 30lb dumbell (5 each arm)
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down


  • 50 pushups, 50 chinups, 100 wallball, 100 single arm snatch, 80 flights of stairs, up and down

Track your time, target is 30 mins.

If you don’t have stairs substitute 20 secs of burbees or skipping or something that gets your heart beating hard.

If you like the look of this workout and want to train with us give me a shout!!spartan barb wire

email – steve [at] danlargo.com

cell – +1 613 797 6222

skype – danlargo




%d bloggers like this: